In this work a hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) simulator of a novel micro combined heat and power system is presented and its use for control algorithm optimization is demonstrated and discussed. The plant under investigation consists of a concentrated Linear Fresnel Reflectors solar field, a 2 kWe/18 kWt Organic Rankine Cycle unit and an advanced latent heat thermal energy storage tank equipped with reversible heat pipes as developed by a consortium of universities and companies within the EU funded project Innova Microsolar. A smart control unit manages their integration and monitors the operation of each subsystem. In order to support the optimization of the control algorithms and the definition of the best control strategy of the micro-CHP plant at different working conditions, a simulation framework based on Matlab/Simulink has been developed by the authors and connected to the real control unit according to a HiL approach. Ad-hoc models of the different subsystems together with those of the components (i.e. valves and variable speed pumps) regulating the plant operation have been included. The use of the HiL simulator has permitted to optimize the control logic of the integrated plant prior to its future commissioning, thus helping to overcome some of the technical and reliability issues occurring during the setup of the real system. In particular, the HiL has allowed: (i) to define the proportional and integral gains of the diverters in order to assure a robust and fast response of the plant during the switch among the different operation modes; (ii) to prove the limits of acting on the oil pump flow rate in assuring the nominal oil temperature at the inlet of the ORC unit, due to the inherent fluctuations caused by this control strategy; and (iii) to assess the best control strategy which is obtained by acting on the aperture of the diverter which controls the oil mass flow rate to the ORC unit. Hence, the scientific approach here proposed can be extended also to many other complex energy conversion systems in order to significantly reduce the potential critical issues during their commissioning.
Development of a hardware-in-the-loop simulator for small-scale concentrated solar combined heat and power system / Cioccolanti, L.; Tascioni, R.; Pirro, M.; Arteconi, A.. - In: ENERGY CONVERSION AND MANAGEMENT. X. - ISSN 2590-1745. - 8:(2020), p. 100056. [10.1016/j.ecmx.2020.100056]